The Employment Situation in Maine - March 2022 Bookmark and Share

April 15, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 15, 2022 Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192

The Employment Situation in Maine - March 2022

Total nonfarm wage and salary jobs increased by 3,600 in March and by an average of 3,400 jobs in the last three months over the prior three. The unemployment rate decreased to 3.6 percent and averaged 3.9 percent in the last three-months.

This news release presents estimates derived from two monthly surveys. The Current Population Survey collects information from households on labor force status, including labor force participation, employment, and unemployment. The Current Employment Statistics survey collects information from employers by industry sector on the number of jobs, hours worked, and wages paid to individuals on their payrolls.

Statewide Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force Estimates

The 3.6 percent unemployment rate and 24,800 unemployed people were down from February and the lowest in 24 months. The 59.2 percent labor force participation rate and the 57.0 percent employment-to-population ratio were little changed in the month.

Three-month averages generally provide a better indication of workforce conditions as they smooth some of the variability in sample-based estimates, and they reflect revisions to estimates for previous months. The 3.9 percent average unemployment rate for January to March decreased 0.4 percentage points from the prior three-month period through December. Labor force participation and employment-to-population rates were little changed in that period. U.S. and New England unemployment rates for March were 3.6 and 4.0 percent, respectively.

Statewide Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Jobs Estimates

Total nonfarm wage and salary jobs increased 3,600 in the month to 638,700. The largest job gains were in professional and business services, retail trade, and healthcare and social assistance. In the three-months through March, half of the gain was in leisure and hospitality and in retail trade, as those sectors recover from some of the sharpest job losses at the onset of the pandemic. The state gained an average of 3,400 jobs in the last three months over the prior three through December.

Compared to the average number of jobs in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, the three-month average of jobs through March was 99.6 percent as high. The professional and business services, construction, manufacturing, and educational services sectors were higher and eight other sectors were close to their 2019 level. The three-month average of jobs remained lower in healthcare and social assistance (primarily in nursing care facilities and in social assistance) and in leisure and hospitality (primarily in food services), as well as in state and local governments (primarily in K-12 and higher education).

County and Metro Area Not Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force Estimates

Among the 16 counties in the state, unemployment rates were at least 0.3 percentage points higher than the not seasonally-adjusted statewide average of 4.1 percent in eight, at least 0.3 points lower in three, and close to the average in five. Unemployment rates ranged from a low of 3.1 percent in Cumberland County to a high of 6.5 percent in Washington County.

Among the three metro areas of the state, unemployment was below the statewide average in the Portland-S. Portland (3.4 percent), and Bangor areas (3.7 percent), and close to the average in the Lewiston-Auburn (3.9 percent) area.

(For substate areas, labor force estimates, including unemployment rates, are not seasonally adjusted. Because of this, estimates for a certain month should be compared to the same month in other years and should not be compared to other months.)

Statewide and Metro Area Not Seasonally Adjusted Hours and Earnings Estimates

Private sector hours averaged 34.2 and hourly earnings averaged $28.50 in March. The average work week was longest in manufacturing and shortest in leisure and hospitality. Hourly earnings were highest in professional and business services and lowest in leisure and hospitality.

Private sector average hourly earnings increased 5.9 percent in the 12-months through March. The leisure and hospitality sector had both the highest rate of increase in hourly earnings and the largest increase in hours worked over the year.

Average hourly earnings were higher than the statewide average in Portland-S. Portland, slightly lower than the average in Lewiston-Auburn, and below the average in the Bangor metro.

This news release is available in a more accessible format here

April workforce estimates will be released Friday, May 20 at 10 a.m. The data release schedule is here

Nonfarm jobs data is available here

Unemployment and labor force data is available here


  1. Preliminary seasonally-adjusted labor force estimates, including rates (labor force participation, employment, and unemployment rates), and levels (labor force, employed, and unemployed), as well as nonfarm wage and salary job estimates are inexact. Annual revisions (published in March each year) add accuracy. A comparison of 2020 and 2021 revised and previously published estimates is available in this blog.

  2. The 90 percent confidence interval for the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was between 2.8 and 4.5.

  3. Nonfarm wage and salary jobs from the payroll survey provide a better indication of changes in employment than resident employment from the household survey. The payroll survey is larger and has smaller margins of error.

  4. Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates tend to be volatile from month to month because of variability in the sample of reporting employers and their representativeness of all employers. Seasonal adjustment is imperfect because weather, the beginning and ending of school semesters, and other events do not always occur with the same timing relative to the pay period that includes the 12th day of the month, which is the survey reference period. This sometimes exacerbates monthly changes in jobs estimates. Users should look to the trend over multiple months rather than the change from one specific month to another. Jobs estimates for the period from April 2021 to September 2022 will be replaced with payroll data in March 2023. Those benchmark revisions usually show less monthly variability than preliminary estimates do.